Cancer diagnosis and treatment is one of the most stressful experiences in patients’ lives and presents challenges for them both physically and emotionally. Thanks to funding from Dry July, a six-week Gentle Yoga program is helping patients regain physical and emotional confidence.
“Yoga enables me to feel better physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually,” says Jackie Edsall, diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2018. “I find yoga provides very necessary soul food for me.”
Melissa Shand is a Gentle Yoga instructor at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) and says yoga can be instrumental in helping patients manage the stress of cancer treatment.
“There is growing evidence of the benefits a regular yoga practice can have on people who have a diagnosis of cancer,” she says. “The people who attend yoga at the ONJ Centre have often not participated in any physical activity for some time and are unsure of their physical ability to participate. I have watched participants of the program grow in confidence in their ability to move their bodies and participate in a yoga class over the course of the program.”
Many patients find they struggle with an often onerous treatment regime, and yoga gives them the space to manage stress and anxiety.
“One patient found that since starting the yoga course, she was able to reduce pain medication and control her anxiety with mindfulness and breathing,” says Melissa. “She expressed that she got even more out of the program than she expected.”
“Without the funds provided by Dry July to run this program, these participants would miss the opportunity to re-engage with their bodies, their breath and their emotions, building their confidence to re-discover these types of activities within their local community,” says Melissa.
For Jackie, the benefits of yoga have been surprising and necessary in helping her re-gain confidence and strength.
“The nurturing and strength the Gentle Yoga program has provided me can’t be overstated and if supporting this program means going Dry in July, it’s a worthwhile price to pay!”
Gentle Yoga at the ONJ Centre exists because of support from Dry July and the wonderful supporters who go ‘dry in July’ to raise funds for these vital programs. We are deeply grateful for the difference you make to patients and their families.
Pictured: Gentle yoga teacher Melissa Shand and participant Jackie Edsall & Gentle Yoga class at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre